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Art and History Collide This April in Oshawa

One of the most anticipated events in the City of Oshawa’s Arts calendar is the Spring Art Festival at Camp Samac, organized by the Oshawa Art Association. This year, the festival takes place on Saturday, April 13, and Sunday, April 14. Over 40 professional, semi-professional, and amateur artists will be present, with work including paintings, prints, woodwork, sculpture, and pottery. The Oshawa Art Association was founded in 1967. The first Annual Camp Samac Show & Sale took place at Camp Samac in the Fall of 1981. 

Camp Samac is located near the campus of Ontario Tech University and Durham College in the north end of Oshawa. It features over 180 acres of forested land and is one of Scouts Canada's largest staffed camping centres. The Camp was founded in 1946 on land donated by Col. Sam McLaughlin, the founding President of General Motors of Canada. The Spring Art Festival takes place in the mid-century modern log cabins located on the Ontario Heritage designated property.

The Historic Gates of Camp Samac
The Historic Gates of Camp Samac.

Twenty years ago, Camp Samac closed its gates to the public (the grounds were previously open to the public), so the Spring Art Festival offers an opportunity to once again access one of Oshawa's great hidden gems.

The oldest church building in the city closes its doors to the public on April 14, with a final service at 10:30 p.m. Simcoe Street United Church, located at the corner of Simcoe Street and Bagot Street, has been a landmark in Oshawa since 1867, and the congregation can be traced back to 1812. The church is also home to a magnificent Casavant Opus 851 pipe organ, initially installed in 1920 and updated in 1981. The tremendous growth in demographics in Oshawa dictates the closing. However, there is still one more opportunity for history buffs and architecture aficionados to visit what is another hidden gem in this city. 

Simcoe Street United's 104-year-old Casavant Opus 851 Pipe Organ
Simcoe Street United's 104-year-old Casavant Opus 851 Pipe Organ.

The hidden heritage of Oshawa also includes natural heritage, and the Second Marsh at Lake Ontario is indeed a jewel. The Marsh area is a vital visit for birders to view the Spring and Fall migration and also offers the opportunity for a brisk hike enjoying the sights and sounds of Oshawa’s natural heritage.  On Saturday, April 6, at 9 a.m. The Friends of the Second Marsh, an organization that oversees the conservation area, is organizing a spring hike around the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve Trails, which is approximately three kilometers long.

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery is one of the known jewels in Oshawa. It has a strong reputation and history of presenting artists of national renown. On Friday, April 5, the gallery’s RMG Fridays event celebrates the opening of Tony Romano’s exhibit, The Big Hat. 

Romano is an artist based in Toronto who has had exhibits in Sweden, Austria and across Canada. ‘The Big Hat’ is a series of sculptures and videos which tell the story of how garden ornaments of the wind-activated spinning whirligig type are co-opted into a life of labour. 

A snapshot of Tony Romano’s exhibit ‘The Big Hat’.
A snapshot of Tony Romano’s exhibit ‘The Big Hat’.

Big hats, small hats, and hats in general are the focus of the Gatsby Garden Party Hat Workshop on April 13 and 14 at the Oshawa Museum. Oshawa is celebrating a century as a city, so there will be 1920s-themed parties, and this millinery workshop will help participants create head covering suitable for such events.

Keep that hat handy, as there will be many more opportunities to wear it during this city’s centennial year.

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